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Old 26th May 2009, 22:47   #1
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Default Ooty, Coonoor, Kotagiri, Isha Yoga Centre-From Bangalore

(I took a week to type this and it was done in office. Please excuse if it is too lengthy and I am also sure there are many grammatical errors. I hope you will enjoy the details ignoring these shortcomings. Thanks)

After tremendous help from fellow TBHPians, I traveled from Bangalore – Ooty - Bangalore between May 13 2009 – May 17 2009.

I was really amazed at the level of passion TBHPians demonstrated while giving suggestions. Equally interesting was the attention to detail in their travelogues. I felt it was my duty to contribute back to the forum and thought I too will write a travelogue.

But after stepping into Ooty, a metamorphosis happened in me. I felt sad about Ooty. You will read why. So, instead of a vanilla travelogue, I decided to write a travelers review + a travelogue.

This way, those who are planning to visit Ooty will get details about route etc and also links to other travelogues. And those who have already visited Ooty, can just enjoy another travelogue.

For the convenience of the readers, I will post in the following sequence:


Part 1: Travelogue

Detailed Route:

Day 1: Bangalore-Mysore-Najangud-Gundulpet-Bandipur-Mudumalai-Masinagudi-Ooty
Day 2: Ooty-Coonoor by train, return to Ooty by Cab
Day 3: Ooty-Coonoor-Mettupalayam-Coimbatore-Siruvani Main Road-Isha Yoga Centre
(Dhyanalingam)-Coimbatore-Mettupalayam-Kotagiri-Ooty
Day 4: Ooty-Gudalur-Mudumalai-Bandipur-Nanjangud-Mysore-Bangalore

Date of Travel : Wednesday, 13 May 2009 to Sunday 17 May 2009
No. Of Travelers: Two (Myself & a special someone. I call her Su)
Vehicle : Maruti 800, 2002 Model (no other car was available)
Total Distance : Almost 1000 Kms (sorry, could not keep exact details)
Fuel Consumed : After two full tanks, half tank is still left (again sorry, no details)

Part 2: Review

Bangalore – Ooty – Coonoor – Coimbatore – Kotagiri – Gudalur – Bangalore

2.1: Route Review
2.2: Hotel Review
2.3: Restaurant Review
2.4: Ooty Shopping Review
2.5: Sightseeing (Ooty, Coonoor, Isha Yoga Centre, Kotagiri) Review
2.6: Nilgiri Train Review
2.7: Coimbatore (Isha Yoga Centre) Review
2.8: Overall Review


Part 1: Travelogue


Before I start with my travelogue, I urge readers to visit these much better Travelogues on Ooty. You will find all the info you need to travel to Ooty in these threads. Trust these threads and there is no need to open a new thread asking for Ooty info.


BomBatt's 3 Day Ooty Weekend (Three-day weekend trip to Ooty and Coonoor)
nnandi reclaims Ooty (Ooty reclaimed- Good Friday weekend 2009.)
dreamdiesel travels to Ooty in Swift (Bangalore - Ooty/Coonoor in Swift D)
akroy weekend in Ooty (Travelogue: A weekend at Nilgiris !!)
akroy visits Ooty again (Weekend Travelogue: Ooty-Mysore)
Lukeskywalker visits Emerald, Ooty (Trip To Emerald near Ooty with Pics)
Exploring Kotagiri with Lukeskywalker (Exploring Kotagiri - Some musings)

Now that you are done reading the other travelogues, do spare some time so I can share my experience too.

More than a month of planning. Where to go? which hotel to stay? Hmm, haven’t seen Ooty. Ok let’s go to Ooty. But waitaminute. Everyone is saying this is peak season and Ooty will be packed. Well, we decided it would be Ooty. No changes.

Hunt for a hotel begins. We needed a hotel that was clean, comfortable, near the city. Our visit was to see Ooty and around. If it were to just relax, we would have booked a farm stay.

Every hotel website has inviting photos. Hey that room looks good and it costs so less? Well turns out they post pictures of high-end rooms which cost a bomb. Eventually, numerous changes in hotel choices, we booked a hotel called. Meadows Residency. It is a minute’s walk from Charring cross. Take a left from the hotel, Coonoor and Coimbatore. Take a right you reach Doddapetta peak. 5 minutes walk is botanical garden. Few minutes’ drive is Railway station and Ooty Lake. The famous Nahar Restaurant is 1 minute away. So ideal for us since we planned to cover more in less time. Booked the hotel room at Yatra as they were offering cash back. A Pearl Room for three days cost Rs.7,500 including breakfast. Had some glitches with Yatra after booking but later everything was fine.

Now for transport. My colleague had promised to lend his Santro, but in the last moment he had other plans. So I took my grandfathers Maruti 800. It was giving out a dud dud sound when I was driving. So after suggestions from TBHPians, I took it for a check up. Turns out the left-hand side drive shaft was damaged. Got it replaced. Ready to go.
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Old 26th May 2009, 22:52   #2
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Nice beginning, waiting for more to come !
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Old 26th May 2009, 23:49   #3
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Velliangiri/Poondi Ishayoga centre is growing as a big Pilgrimage Centre.I thought only local coimbatore guys knows about this centre.
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Old 27th May 2009, 00:14   #4
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Default Day 1

(The setting in my camera was changed to Small mode and I had not observed this. Hence all the photos look below average even though it has been taken in an entry level DSLR. Hence the pics might be disappointing)


Day 1 (13 May night & 14 May)

I left office at Whitefield around 7 PM, picked up Su from CV Raman Nagar at 8 PM, did pooja for the car and drove to Forum Mall, Koramangala. I had already booked tickets for the Tamil movie “Ayan” 10 PM show at PVR. Though I do not understand Tamil, Su is a big fan of Suriya. Reached forum by 9 PM. Went to the Transit Food Court. Ordered some Chinese dishes that were average. Went into the movie hall. Movie was a masala twister. Good fun.

Came out of forum at 1:30 AM. All roads were deserted. Went through Richmond circle and took the Mysore Road flyover at K R Market. Within a few minutes, we were on Mysore road. There wasn’t much traffic. Sudden road bumps were repetitive and frustrating. Later stopped at CCD at 2:30 AM. Had some doughnut, and tea. The shop was playing Kannada songs. Some teenage kids and a young couple were around. We left Coffee Day at 3:15 AM. Drove through Mysore after asking directions for Ooty (couple of joggers in that time of the morning). Passed Nanjangud, spotted a wild boar before Gundulpet. Had a horrible drive through a bad stretch from Gundulpet. Reached Pug Mark hotel at 6:30 AM. A guy was sweeping the parking lot. He said breakfast would be ready only by 7:30 AM. So we left the place and continued the journey. Stopped near Cicada jungle resort to take snaps of hundreds of deer on either side of the road. Saw some langoors, couple of elephants grazing. Later entered Mudumalai. Saw peacock, peahen. The forest check post guy took Rs.20. Soon I reached the bifurcation point. Left is Masingudi, right is Gudalur. I took left and soon drove through the 36 hairpin bends. Nothing difficult about these bends. I read many members writing that 36 hairpin bends, very difficult etc. Any normal driver who can drive safely through traffic and some twisty roads can manage these bends. If you are afraid of heights then you will have a difficult time as the view from the roads makes you realize you are really high up the mountains. Anyway, after the hairpin bends, we reached a small circle. Straight road takes you to Ooty and right turn takes you to Gudalur. We drove straight and at 8:30 AM, reached Nahar Hotel near Charring Cross. There is a huge rush at Nahar and parking is really difficult. But the parking attendants at the hotel do a wonderful job. We had breakfast at the South Indian restaurant of Nahar. Idly Vada, Dosa all are priced around Rs.40-50. Food tasted good. We thought lets visit Nahar for lunch also since many posts have been written at TBHP praising this restaurant. Later we parked our car at Meadows Residency and went to reception to check-in. They said that standard check-in checkout time is 12 PM. So our room is still not vacated. I was surprised that they identified it as OUR room. Surely they have many other rooms. Anyway, they gave us a glass each of Maaza as a welcome drink.

We left our baggage there and walked to the Botanical Gardens, which is 5 minutes walk from the hotel. We bought the ticket and walked in. I have been to Lal Bagh in Bangalore and Ooty Botanical garden disappointed me. Some bunch of flowers here and there. Somehow I felt this place is made to please tourists. I know it has a long history but still I did not enjoy the place. But we walked around for an hour (up to the Italian garden which did not have anything Italian). Then we walked back to the hotel. On the way, we saw Coffee Day. We also saw Kings*. Any unassuming tourist will think this is the famous Kingstar bakery. This is clearly an imitation. Soon we reached the hotel but the room was still not ready. Both of us were tired after the night drive. We sat on the sofa near the reception. Su slept right there. After half an hour, I was asked to fill my details in a form and we were shown our room. We liked it and were happy since it was how we expected. The bed was big and comforter (quilt) was nice. There was an LCD TV. The bathroom was clean and fresh. There was running hot water (not geyser). We took bath and after a couple hours sleep, we walked to Nahar Hotel for Lunch. It was packed with a lengthy waiting list. I asked the maître d' for a table for two. Immediately he seated us a few tables away from the fireplace. The menu was similar to any multi cuisine restaurant. We ordered a Hot and Sour soup, a Hyderbadi Dum Biriyani, Gulab Jamoon with Ice cream and a bottle of water. Total bill was appx Rs.350. The soup was too spicy. The Biriyani was bad. The Jamoon was soggy. So totally did not like the food here. We thought we will try the meals for dinner (priced at Rs.150 for south Indian meals).

After lunch we drove to the Ooty Boat House at 3:30 PM. It was like a village fair. Everybody was busy eating. Lots of vehicles. Messy parking. Dust. Plastic and dirt everywhere. Ignoring all this, we bought the entrance tickets and went to the counter to book pedal boats. There was a long queue. We found out that we have to wait three hours for getting the boat ticket and another three hours to actually get the boat. We ditched the plan for a pedal boat and went to buy the motorboat ticket. But we were told we have to buy either 8 seat, 10 seat or 15 seat tickets. So we stood there haplessly. Then someone came and asked how many of us were there. We told two. Someone else told they were four. This someone was with a group of four. So he took a 10-seater boat. Cost per seat was Rs.40. Now the ticket numbering is unique. It has a serial number and a boat number. Our serial number was C11 and boat number was 859. So if another guy has serial number C10 and boat 859, he will go first. Then even if many empty boats arrive, we have to wait for boat 859. Anyways, we got into the boat, he took us round the lake. The lake itself is filthy and plastic strewn all over the water. At one end, I could see Hotel Lakeview and it looked interesting. I guess there was a boat counter in front of that hotel too. Nothing impressive about the boat ride. Then, after a few minutes of jam in the parking lot, we came out of Boathouse and drove towards Doddapetta peak. The roads are good. Then there is a trifurcation. The left hand side goes to one place (don’t remember where to), the downward right hand side will eventually lead to Kotagiri, and the upward right hand side is to Doddapetta. The roads from here are bad. Full of potholes and gravel. We drove slowly and reached the parking lot of Doddapetta. It was full and again, there was jam. We reversed and were searching for an empty spot. Luckily, we found one on the downhill road and parked the car there. Then we started to walk towards the peak. It’s a narrow path and either side is full of hawkers selling food, toys. Everybody, again, were busy stuffing their mouths. The rush, the dirt, the trash, people gorging like they never saw food, all these make for a revolting environment. Talking about this, we reached the peak and the view was quite amazing. We could see valleys, lakes it was a superb view. But all around people were shouting, falling upon each other to buy more food and carelessly tossing trash all around. Not to mention some waste fellows who comment in Tamil and eve tease (Su knows decent Tamil so she could make out what people were commenting on her). We ignored the waste fellows and took snaps. Then we climbed the Telescope house. Even here the floor was covered with food that was being stamped on. There was a queue to view from the two telescopes. When it was our chance, we didn’t know how to reach as the telescope was pointed at some random building. It was blurry. And the guy at the telescope kept yelling “NO TOUCHING NO TOUCHING”. So we climbed down, walked to the road that has a property belonging to Airports Authority of India, it was empty and we could feel the nice weather and crisp air. Just the two of us holding hands and enjoying nature. We climbed down to the road where our car was parked and started driving back in the horrible road. On the way back, we visited the Tea Factory and Chocolate Factory. This was more of a funny experience than an enriching one. The entrance fee is Rs.5 and camera fee is Rs.20. We paid and went inside. The factory guy plays a DVD that has an audio narration. Simultaneously another guy points a laser dot at a large poster hanging from the ceiling. This poster has diagrams of the tea manufacturing process. Within a minute, the explanation was over and we were asked to climb down a narrow staircase to the factory floor. It was hot and humid. What we got to see was the machines being painted. No manufacturing nothing. Then we were given a free tiny cup of tea and people were clambering to buy tea by the Kgs. We came out of the factory and at the exit, there are two shops selling Nilgiri souvenirs. We followed the pathway that leads to the “Chocolate Factory” behind the Tea Factory. We went in and there is a glass enclosure inside which one guy was wrapping colour paper on chocolates. Next enclosure was a chocolate shop. Behind there (within the room) are shops selling toys, and some other things. So effectively, this chocolate factory is nothing but a shop. And overall, this felt like a factory built for tourists. We had a real Tea factory experience in Brooklands, Coonoor. More on that later. But I would definitely not recommend either the Tea Factory or the Chocolate factory in Ooty. Its just novelty factor.

Leaving the tea factory behind, we returned to the hotel at 5:30 PM. Freshened up and decided to go shopping after a short nap. But we woke up only at 9:00 PM! (Because we had missed out on sleep the previous night due to night drive). So we went to the in-house restaurant at Meadow Residency called Oven. It is a tiny restaurant with 6 Tables that can seat 24. Although every other aspect of this hotel was good, the service at the restaurant is very slow. We waited for 45 minutes for our order to arrive. After repeated reminders he served our Panneer Chili, Roti, Veg Kadai, Mineral Water. Total bill was Rs.336. Food was decent.

We returned to our room and retired for the day.
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Old 27th May 2009, 00:21   #5
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deepclutch, I received an E-Mail Forward with photos of Isha Yoga Centre. The photos looked awesome. So I thought we thought we will visit the place. The drive was almost 4 hours from Ooty. Honestly, I felt the place is kind of commercialized. Combined with the fatigue from driving and the atmosphere at the place, I did not feel at peace. Really did not feel like a spiritual centre.


More pictures from Day 1.
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Old 27th May 2009, 00:29   #6
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Default Day 2

Day 2 (15 May)

Today our plan was to travel to Coonoor. We were up and ready by 8 AM. Had complimentary breakfast at the in house restaurant of Meadows Residency. They had Idly Vada, plain Dosa, pongal, bread toast with butter & jam, tea, coffee. The food was quite nice and hot. After breakfast, we took an auto from Charring Cross till Railway station (Rs.40). There was long queue for tickets. But we had made advance booking through IRCTS (thanks to Nandi). As soon as we reached the station, the Nilgiri train chugged in. We stood at the platform and asked the Ticket Master where is the First Class Bogy. He pointed at the last bogy. We found our seats and settled down. Each bogy has four sofa type seats. Two facing each other. Each sofa accommodates four passengers. There are overhead shelves to store your luggage. At sharp 9:15 AM, the train started its journey towards Coonoor. I was told that the right hand side is full of scenery. But which right hand side? I soon found out. When you are sitting in the train, if you are facing the Engine side, then the scenic part is to your right hand side. If your back is facing the engine, then the scenic part is to your left hand side. Anyways, as mentioned, the route was indeed full of scenery. Huge, wide valleys, houses, cows, few tunnels, it was nice. But other than the scenery, this train journey was nothing close to a special experience. I am sure the toy train in Darjeeling beats the Nilgiri train easily. There are a few stations with nice names (Lovedale etc). At 10:15, the train reached Coonoor. We got down and our cab driver Stephen was waiting for us (again thanks to Nandi). We asked if he can take us to St. Catherine falls and how much it costs. He said it’s not worth visiting now since there is no water. He could have easily earned extra by just taking us there. But he is a good guy. Definitely recommend him if you need cab in Ooty or Coonoor (but his Indica is not very posh. Though spacious, some might feel its run down). Stephen took us to Lambs Rock, Dolphins Nose, Some tea estate, Sims Park, Brooklands Tea Factory, and few other viewpoints. Also on the way back to Ooty, he drove us through the military academy. But we are not supposed to stop our car in this route. So nothing to cherish.

Coming to the viewpoints, I felt all of them are almost same and I could not make out Dolphin or sleeping lady or anything. As usual, everyone was busy munching away and throwing plastic everywhere. Brooklands Tea Factory was far better than the Tea Factory in Ooty. It was not crowded, and there was a guide who explained the process of Tea manufacturing. He even switched on a few machines that were off just to show how it works. The other machines were running and he showed us live how different types of Tea are done. I was really impressed and could not stop myself from buying a pack of premium tea at Rs.81. In some other roadside Tea estate, Su tasted masala tea, chocolate tea. She liked masala tea and bought 500 Gms (it is the minimum quantity one has to buy). Chocolate tea tasted like Bournvita.

Sims Park is much better than the Ooty Botanical Gardens. It is like a step garden. You gradually climb down each level. There is a small dirty lake where boating is available for kids. You need around two hours and lot of stamina to walk around the entire park.

We had lunch at Quality Restaurant, Coonoor. There was a lunch buffet at Rs.90. It was reasonable than the À la Carte menu that was quite expensive. The buffet had a soup, salad, pappads, two gravies, Roti, naan, ghee rice, white rice, noodles, Chinese gravy, potatoes, sambar, curd rice, payasa. Food was decent. We returned to Ooty at 5PM. Refreshed ourselves and went out to check the shopping scene. All the shops looked usual selling things that are available in Bangalore too. We went to the famous Kingstar Bakery (left hand side after Hotel Nahar, beside Ooty Gas). There were a few people. We bought 100gms of Cashew Chocolate and some chocolate fudge. Cost was Rs.70. Though the fudge was melting the in the mouth, it left a sandy residue. I felt Mysore Pak is much better. The chocolates were nothing spectacular. All this along with the damp squib at viewpoints made me feel Ooty is too very commercialized and this entire thing is just touristy. There is no real punch apart form the pleasant weather.

Later we went to the sidewalk café attached to Hotel Nahar. They had a live wood burning pizza oven. They also serve burgers, pasta. We got a Popeye Small pizza and Spicy Veg Supreme medium pizza parceled (cost Rs.400). It was more than filling. We had a bottle of Wine Su had bought from Italy. We finished the whole bottle with the pizza and went to sleep.

One thing to note here is that the hotel where we stayed, Meadows Residency, charges Room service (15%) even if you visit the restaurant in person and buy a water bottle.
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Last edited by ashwinsid : 27th May 2009 at 00:30. Reason: Want to disable italics
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Old 27th May 2009, 00:42   #7
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Default Day 3

Day 3 (16 May)

Today our plan was to drive till Isha Yoga Centre (Dhyanalingam) near Coimbatore, and later on the way back, try to visit Emerald Lake / Avalanche (I knew small cars will not be able to reach those places so I planned to walk).

We had breakfast by 8:30 and started our journey. We drove to Coimbatore via Coonoor, Mettupalayam. The route up to Mettupalayam is a ghat section and roads are excellent. But lots of big vehicles make the drive difficult. There is Laws falls on the way. Our Coonoor driver had told us that the water in this falls is nothing but wastewater from Coonoor. I guess he was right since there was lot of dirty foam and stinking smell at the falls. After the difficult drive full of honking, we crossed the ghat section and the roads up to Mettupalayam were even better. The city of Mettupalayam is crammed and chaotic. The change in temperature from Ooty to Mettupalayam was sudden and in the face. We started sweating profusely. There were small signs leading the Coimbatore and we found that a small stretch of road after Coimbatore is slightly bad. We reached the outskirts of Coimbatore at 11:30 AM. Though I had a printed Google Map, I asked for directions to Siruvani Main Road. One petrol bunk guy said the route via Town Hall (as mentioned in Google Maps) is long. Instead, he suggested we should go via Vadavalli. After driving for some time, we reached a sign board that said Vadavalli-3 Kms. There we asked someone again. He said we have come on the wrong route and there is only one road to Isha Yoga Centre and that is via town hall. Again we went through another route via Agriculture University, through another cramped road and reach Town hall circle. I was expecting a big nice circle. But this was very very small and completely crowded with vehicles. We somehow followed the Google maps and reached Siruvani Main Road. After many Kilometers, we saw a signboard that said Vadavalli is somewhere near that road. Probably, if we had gone via Vadavalli, the route would have been shorter with less traffic. Siruvani main road is asphalted very well. There are ‘Z’ barricades every few Kilometers but it does not hinder a smooth drive. After almost half an hour, we found a nondescript signboard on the left side of the road tat said Isha Yoga Centre Take Right turn (8 Kms). The turn lead us to a smaller road. It was drivable but there were many road humps. After 6 Kms, we reached a kuchcha road (mud). We drove slowly and eventually reached the place. At first glance, it feels like a resort with a down to earth theme. We parked our car, and started walk in the direction mentioned by a security guard. Meantime, we heard this lour ‘sheyaaa sheyaaa’ sounds that was coming from a wide structure (it was like a small stadium with tiled roof or rather like a large village hall). I guess some exercise or karate stuff was going on in there and we were not allowed. This sheyaaa sheyaaa sound continued for the next one hour. We reached a courtyard where there were Isha Yoga Memorabilia shops, a food court and a counter where we deposit our footwear. We were also asked to leave back our mobile phones, bags, camera etc. Half-heartedly, we left the belongings and started walking barefoot on hot stoned pathway. After the main entrance, we saw many middle class folks (localites) were being briefed in Tamil. We were looking around and a Foreigner guy came and said (with thick accent) “Namaskaaram, Welcome to Isha Yoga Centre”. I thought he is some guide kind of person probably stuck here. Su asked him if he will be our guide. He said he will explain about the temple. Soon, he started mentioning about the theme of Isha Yoga Centre. About Thrimurthis, the Theerthakund (holy dip), The Dhyanalingam, the procedures etc. Thanking him, we entered the temple. Surely many people will admire the work that has been done here. Even now construction is going and some amazing architecture can be seen. We have to buy Rs.10 ticket for the Theerthakund. But 1PM to 1:30PM was ladies only entrance. So Su bought the ticket and I was waiting outside.

The whole idea of Theerthakund is to take bath in the Holy waters. I was told that the Theerthakund is square in shape, many feet below the ground and there is a Lingam in the centre of the pond (this Lingam is supposed to be 99.8% pure solidified mercury but modern science says Mercury cannot be solidified but ancient alchemy is supposed to be used here). People can first change clothes at the ground level (there is a place where you can take shower, change dress). Then you climb down the steps and take bath. You are supposed to swim to the centre and touch the lingam. This is supposed to prepare your mind and body for the actual Dhyanalingam.

Su just went knee deep and came back. We then went to the Dhyanalingam enclosure. The enclosure is a huge dome structure with a huge Lingam at the centre. This dome is supposed to be built without any steel or cement but only with bricks and mud. Anything that makes a sound (except our mouths!) is not allowed inside. Even anklets (the jewelry worn by women around their ankles) are not allowed. A volunteer ushered us to either side of the pathway. He used only signs, as we are not allowed to speak. There is a ledge on either sides where we can sit in penance. Also we can see various murals on the walls, depicting stories on Lord Shiva. Every 12 minutes, a small bell is sounded to let people in and out of the Dhyanalingam Enclosure. We walked in and most of the folks started running and giggling inside the enclosure creating a ruckus. They were competing with each other to occupy the small cube like incisions in the walls of the dome where we can sit and meditate. After the ruckus calmed down, we sat on the floor and tried to meditate. But many kids were making tic tak sounds and giggling. After some time, the bell was sounded and we came out. I think if there is less crowd or with sensible crowd, we can indeed meditate peacefully here.

Soon we collected our bags, footwear and went to the food court. We were really hungry as it was 1:30 PM. There were many things on offer. Tomato rice and Curd rice at Rs.15 each, fruit salads at Rs.20, milk shake at Rs.50, chips, desserts etc etc. As usual everybody was busy eating. We too had lunch and left.

I wanted to visit this place because I had received an email forward with photos of the place and I was really impressed. But after the visit, I feel it’s completely commercialized and has turned to a picnic spot. All the souvenir shops, the glitzy fonts all of it made me feel this was some business investment rather than a place of spiritualism.

[FONT=&quot]We took the same route back to Mettupalayam. The temperature was scorching hot. After Mettupalayam, I saw a signboard that said straight is Ooty right is Kotagiri. I decided I will try the Kotagiri route even though it is slightly longer. I realized I had made a right choice. This road from Mettupalayam to Kotagiri is splendid. What views! My! My! The traffic is sparse too. It was pleasant drive unlike the Mettupalayam-Ooty route full of traffic. Soon after we entered the Kotagiri road, there was an instant drop in temperature. At one time, it was freezing. We wondered how cold it could be during winter. After a really pleasant drive, we reached Ooty at 6:30 PM. We refreshed ourselves, had a short nap, and went to New Ooty Bakeries and Sweets to try the puffs. They had mushroom puffs. It was decent. I saw that chocolates here were cheaper than Kingstar. So bought some. Later went to Kingstar to buy some other variety of Chocolates. The ended with a not so good dinner at Sidewalk Café. The Coleslaw was bland; the burger was oily and burnt. Only the pizza was good.
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Last edited by ashwinsid : 27th May 2009 at 00:43. Reason: remove italics
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Old 27th May 2009, 00:51   #8
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Default Day 4

Day 4 (17 May)

Today we return to Bangalore. So we were ready by 7:30 AM. Asked the reception to prepare our bill. Had the complementary breakfast. The bill was surprising, as he had not charged for any mineral water we had taken with the breakfast. Was the mineral water complementary? Was it their oversight? We did not ask. Left the hotel by 8:30 AM. Tanked up at the double decker fuel bunk. They also have a mini super market in the bunk. Very useful for travelers. I wanted to check the tire pressures but the guy who mans the air pump was not there. So I checked it myself. Within no time, we reached the junction where we took left towards Gudalur. Traffic was on the heavier side. We saw one small patch of pine trees but we gave it a miss thinking it is too small to be the famous Pine Forest. Turns out this small patch is indeed the Pine forest. Next we stopped near the Kamaraj Sagar Dam. There were a bunch of simians standing up on two legs, ready pounce and snatch away any stuff in our hands. So we did not get down. Just took some photos and continued onwards. A few minutes drive later, near a curve, there is a Sheep Rearing Research Centre on the right hand side. One can park the car outside and walk a few meters. A pond full of Ducks and swans welcomes you. Really an awesome sight. Just a few meters away, on a small hillock, herds of sheep walk around. A very peaceful and delightful sight, this. We stayed here for a few minutes and next stop was at 8th Mile on the left hand side. We parked the car on the roadside and walked on a gravel road. It’s a superb place with slopes and a lake at the far end. (This was much much better than the 9th Mile, which was our next stop). This place was empty and if time permits, one can have super awesome fun here playing, running around or just sleeping on the ground. We returned to our car and soon we reached the overcrowded 9th Mile (Shooting Medu). We drove much ahead of the viewpoint to find a parking spot. After negotiating our way through the crowds, we starting walking towards the viewpoint. It’s quite a steep climb and without proper footwear, one might slip somewhere. We were disappointed after reaching the top, as the view from here was boring, not as beautiful as it was at 8th Mile, though this was at a higher altitude. There were some guys who were hard selling horse rides. The horses looked unfed and I wondered if they would be able to carry the weight of a person. And as in other places in Ooty, there was a stuffed tiger doll. If you pay Rs.10, you can sit near or on this doll and you can click pictures (in your own camera). Who would want to pay to get photos next to a stuffed doll? And there was no shortage of eve teasers. Soon we climbed down and drove towards Pykara Falls.

There is no proper signage leading the Pykara Falls. We asked around and soon found our car parked on the roadside and walking 1KM from the road. There is an entry fee of Rs.2 and another few minutes of walking down some stairs. The view as you are nearing the falls is superb. The row of trees next to the lake/river is expansive. Amazing bulbous shape and almost like somebody has placed the trees there to decorate the place. The water around the falls seemed to be dirty. Many male tourists took off their clothes (not all of course) and started taking bath. There wasn’t much water so soon we returned and drove to the Pykara Boathouse. Entrance fee is Rs.15. The roads are HORRIBLE. Huge craters filled with water every now and then. And once we reached the boathouse, restaurant, we realized the roads are quite narrow and what if vehicles pile up? Taking the risk, we parked the car and walked down to the boat counter. Luckily, pedal boats were available immediately whereas multiseater motorboats had a waiting time. We hired a pedal boat for 2 for half an hour at Rs.60 + returnable deposit of Rs.100. The boat Walla tied a lifesaver vest on us and soon we were pedaling away. The boats are maintained badly and the pedals were squeaking and were very hard.
Thankfully, the boat had a rexin roof saving us from the heat. We pedaled around in the small enclosure exclusive for pedal boats. The water was cleaner than Ooty Lake but still this was polluted well enough with plastic. We could see on the lakeside ridge that the water level has reduced significantly (by the layer formation due to erosion overtime). At 12 PM, we returned the boats, collected our deposit and what did we see? Huge number of vehicles scampering here and there and more vehicles coming in. I felt we will get stuck here forever. A few minutes of struggling later, somehow I managed to turn the vehicle and tried to drive out as soon as possible but alas, the jam was in place. In that narrow road, vehicles were parked on one side, other vehicles were coming to park at the parking ground and there were vehicles going in the opposite direction trying to get out. Everybody was stuck. Later some Police fellow came and asked the new vehicles to take reverse for a few hundred meters. We inched ahead and after half an hour, we squeezed out and were back on the Ooty Gudalur road. From there the drive was without any hitch and the road was good. Some of the roadside scenery was good. One place in particular was fantastic. There was a lake and beyond that was a slope of tea estates. I muttered this was like Switzerland. We took some snaps and continued driving. The temperature started to climb as we descended. The rest of the journey till Bandipur was uneventful. At Bandipur, we spotted a few elephants. Took snaps. Reached Pugmark Restaurant at 2:30 PM. Only buffet is available (Veg is Rs.150). There was salad, pappad, chapatti, two Veg curries, one egg curry, one chicken curry, one Veg rice, plain rice, rasam, sambar, curd rice and payasa. The food was just about average and there was frequent shortage of supply at the buffet. They serve beer too.

I suggest one can also try the Bandipur Plaza restaurant next to Pugmark to check the quality of food over there too since I did not find Pugmark good enough.

And we were back in the same route that we had taken while coming to Ooty. Past the horrible road till Gudalur, then through Nanjangud, went through Mysore amongst lot of traffic, faced torrential rainfall from Mysore to Bangalore, lots of Jams at the Bangalore Outskirts and Reached home at 9:30 AM.

Overall, it was a good trip. Ooty is totally commercialized. If you want to visit it just because you have never seen Ooty, then you can do all sightseeing in One day. Not all viewpoints are worth. If you plan to relax, DO NOT VISIT Ooty. Instead, some home stay in the outskirts (Red Hills, Destiny) will be definitely worth it.

Am I coming back to Ooty? Yes! But not to the city but surely would like to visit Red Hills or Destiny Farm Stay.
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Old 27th May 2009, 01:10   #9
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Those who want more info on Isha Yoga Centre also Known as Dhyanalinga, you can visit Official Website some photos Google Image Search Page
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Old 27th May 2009, 10:19   #10
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A very detailed and frank writeup, Ashwin. Enjoyed reading it.

Most visitors to places like Ooty try to forcibly ignore the negatives and gorge in the nicer things on offer. This is particularly true about folks from the hot plains of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, who are just happy to be in colder environs. But one can't but agree with you that places like Ooty are getting spoilt at an alarming rate due to the callous and ignorant local tourists and the greedy lot out there to exploit them. And the less said about the administration the better. In today's time when almost everyone is talking about protecting the environment and going green, it is extremely saddening that plastic waste and litter are thrown around without any check or remorse. I believe this is one area where stringent laws need to be formed and enforced ruthlessly. Yes, ruthlessly, because there can be no excuses today for being careless about our environment.

Sorry about the rhetoric. Waiting for the review part now.
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Old 27th May 2009, 22:07   #11
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Default old lady still holds her charm

Ooty is too commercialized, 100% true. But the grand lady still holds her charm. I make sure I never miss a Ooty thread here. Always nice to read, same for this too. Always there is something new to offer.

Off topic: Any review on "Red Hills Nature Resort"? This is in the emerald/avalanche area. Any first hand experience? Also heard the roads are not good. Can I do it in my NHC Exi?

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Old 28th May 2009, 08:15   #12
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@cuttingcrew: don't worry about it - unless you are a BHPian (50 posts) your posts will be verified before it reflects here. So it will take time.

@ashwin: well written travelogue.
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Old 28th May 2009, 08:50   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkyWalker View Post
@cuttingcrew: don't worry about it - unless you are a BHPian (50 posts) your posts will be verified before it reflects here. So it will take time.

@ashwin: well written travelogue.
Both the posts are appearing now, side by side.
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Old 28th May 2009, 09:28   #14
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@cuttingcrew, Check out this thread Red Hills (Help required in booking Red hills nature resort Ooty)
If what's mentioned there is true, you can drive there in NHC.

@pjay_in, @skywalker, Thanks! Will try to post the review part soon.
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Old 28th May 2009, 09:43   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuttingcrew View Post
(I had posted this earlier, but somehow I dont see this. If this is a repeatation please ignore)

Ooty is too commercialized, 100% true. But the grand lady still holds her charm. I make sure I never miss a Ooty thread here. Always nice to read, same for this too. Always there is something new to offer.

Off topic: Any review on "Red Hills Nature Resort"? This is in the emerald/avalanche area. Any first hand experience? Also heard the roads are not good. Can I do it in my NHC Exi?
Of course you can do it in your NHC
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